Community and connection changes lives

Norlane Comm Init. Cafe Photo 2021


Norlane Community Initiatives

When Kaylene Reeves from Norlane Community Initiatives is asked about how her organisation can change lives, she has a powerful story to tell.

“Ten years ago, we started working with a family made up of a single mum with six children,” she says. “One of the children was struggling with ADHD and the medication he was taking suppressed his diet. He couldn’t gain weight and so they were referred to a dietitian who encouraged him to eat more healthy food.”

Providing healthy meals to their kids, Kaylene explains, is already one of the biggest challenges faced by parents in Corio and Norlane, Geelong’s most disadvantaged suburbs, and a dietitian wasn’t the answer.

Thankfully the family found Norlane Community Initiatives, who organised for meals to be delivered to their home. But this was only the start. “The mother wanted to learn how to make these meals herself, so she became a volunteer at our café (The Aviary) and started cooking at home,” Kaylene explains. “Her two older daughters have now also done work experience at the café, which leads on to employment opportunities. The son has gained weight and is doing well.”

Positive intergenerational outcomes like this are the goal of Norlane Community Initiatives, which aims to create healthy, sustainable and inclusive neighbourhoods through social enterprises like their café.

“We focus on building community because we have found that in order for people to sustain housing or find good work environments, they need communities that set that up for them,” Kaylene says. “They need a sense of belonging and pride of place.”

Norlane Community Initiatives has recently received a $37,000 grant from the Geelong Community Foundation to employ an experienced Chef to prepare fresh, affordable and nutritious meals for local Norlane and Corio residents to purchase weekly through the Aviary café.